A single pill which combines three drugs is the complete treatment against AIDS. Patients have to take the pill daily to keep the virus that causes the disease under check.
But still the pill has not come to the market and is expected to hit the markets very soon. Keith Folger of Washington is very happy to hear about the single pill which would keep the virus under check. He started on 36 pills a day about 11 years ago and expects to switch to the new pill when it becomes available. Mr. Folger is the director of community mobilization for the National Association of People with AIDS. The new drug is a combination of drugs such as Sustiva, sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Truvada, sold by Gilead Sciences. Truvada in turn is a combination of two Gilead drugs, Viread and Emtriva.
The FDA would approve the drug and then the drug would be available in the market. The companies said that the drug would cost the same as Sustiva and Truvada which is about $1,200 a month. One other AIDS pill was recently approved by the F.D.A. for use in developing countries. But the new pill constitutes the most widely prescribed regimen in the US and is found to be the most effective pill. But the question posed by the doctors and securities analysts is that how many people taking other drug combinations would switch to the new pill.
Some of them will not because the virus in has already become resistant to one of the drugs in the new pill or because they cannot tolerate the side effects of the pill. Some of the side effects of Sustiva (efavirenz) are unsettlingly vivid dreams and birth defects. Statistics show that nearly 40 million people in the world infected by H.I.V are residing in the developing nations.
In the US there are about 1.1 million AIDS patients. Bristol-Myers and Gilead said that they will make the new pill available at a sharply reduced price for developing nations. An important issue is the development of resistance among the patients. It was later found that the failure of the patients to take their drugs faithfully resulted in the development of resistance to the drugs. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles organization that runs clinics in the United States and abroad, said that problems such as inconvenience, drug addiction, depression and mental illness are the major causes for the development of resistance.